Ernest Harrill taught Political Science at Furman from 1949 to 1983 and served as the University’s first Dean of Students. Prior to joining Furman, Dr. Harrill served his country during WWII in the U.S. Army Air Force in Australia and New Guinea as a Technical Sergeant in the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron. Upon returning to North Carolina, he then received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
While awaiting an assignment as a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department, he signed a one-year teaching contract at Furman University. Realizing he liked teaching, students, Furman, and the Greenville, S.C., community, Dr. Harrill opted out of the Foreign Service and dedicated the next 34 years of his life to the Furman and Greenville community. He served as professor of Political Science, Dean of Students, and Chairman of the Political Science Department. Upon retirement in 1983, he was appointed Professor Emeritus of Political Science by the Board of Trustees of Furman University.
During his time at Furman, Dr. Harrill worked with city and county groups such as The Urban League and The Community Council. In 1970, he served as chairman of the Greenville County School District Citizens Committee and a member of the South Carolina State Legislative Governmental Study Committee. He was appointed by then-Governor Richard Riley, a former student, to serve on the S.C. Mental Health Commission and he was active in the Democratic Party throughout his life.
Dr. Harrill passed away in December of 2011 in Charlotte, NC.